First, a few words on the vintage. These wines, arriving Monday, are the first of a parade of 2010 Burgundies that we will be offering, about which we are very, very excited. There is pretty much universal agreement that 2010 is one of the greatest vintages in a generation, rivaled only by 2005. 2005 was a vintage of immense structure balanced by perfectly ripe fruit. Awfully good stuff. 2010 was different. The fruit was ripe for sure, but rather than solid structure, the wines are built on energy. Every sniff and taste of 2010 Burgundy shows it. Pure energy. The wines are not quite as ripe or structured as 2005, but they make up for it with a life-force, a liveliness, that is irresistible to lovers of Pinot Noir.
Why Chandon de Briailles? If you were a wine maker in the Cote d’Or and wanted to make un-manipulated wine, then this would be your recipe: biodynamic farming, natural yeast, cement tanks, no new oak, whole clusters, light extraction, no fining or filtration. This is trendy stuff, for sure, and lots of people try to make wine like this, too often resulting in wines that taste of their process and lack purity and terroir-expression. But for Chandon de Briailles, these methods are second nature. They’ve been making wines like this since way back, and they know how to use their methods to achieve the intensity, elegance and pure terroir-expression that all Burg-lovers crave. Simply delicious stuff.
Now Chandon de Briailles is not quite JF Mugnier or Armand Rousseau. If you are a major collector of top Burgundy the domain is probably just below your radar. And that is good news for the rest of us, as it means that most of the wines are actually available for purchase, and not just at auctions in Hong Kong. Sadly, this is the direction that Burgundy is moving in, but there are still maybe two dozen quality producers like Chandon de Briailles that have not yet been “discovered” by the international collecting class. This is the group of Burgundy producers that normal folk who just love good wine can still focus on. And Chandon de Briailles should be high on that list.
No matter what the vintage, there is a certain magic to CdB’s wines. Some wine-makers de-stem their grapes because they fear unwanted green flavors and rough tannins. CdB completely avoids these problems and instead gets from the stems an intense floral quality that weaves it’s way through a spectrum of red and dark fruits to form absolutely riveting aromatics. Not too many other wine-makers are able to achieve this. Dujac is one of the few that comes to mind.
In the mouth, the tannins are always smooth and never intrusive. They give substance, texture and length to the wine, without impeding the fruit. Perhaps because of this, the wines don’t seem to shut down very often – they are pretty good to drink at just about any stage of their lives.
And indeed, the 2010s are delicious wines to drink now. This was proven to us at a luncheon hosted by importer David Bowler and wine-maker Claude de Nicolay last Tuesday. The Savigny-les-Beaunes 1er Cru “Lavieres” just exploded with violets and blackberries, and was a perfect match with lamb. The Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru “Ile de Vergelesses” was more reserved but also more refined, with greater presence in the glass. Corton Bressandes was an obvious step up in quality, with detailed red and black fruit notes and tannins that were weightier but nice and silky.
However, the forwardness of these wines does not mean that they don’t age. A 1999 Ile de Vergelesses and 1995 Lavieres were also served, and the wines were still fruity and vigorous, but with the extra dimension of mature flavors, like wild mushrooms and iodine. The Pernand had developed an exquisite spicy note that is the signature of the site. Both wines felt like they had at least another decade of life ahead of them. You should buy these wines, drink half of them young, and squirrel away the other half and forget about them for a while.
By the way, the estate also produces excellent white wine, which arrive in the Fall.
Here is what we have:
All 2010 Chandon de Briailles:
Savigny-les-Beaune – $32
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “Aux Fourneaux” – $38
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “Les Lavieres” – $42
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Les Vergelesses” – $38
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Ile des Vergelesses” – $48
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Ile des Vergelesses” 1.5L – $100
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Ile des Vergelesses” 3L – $250
Corton Les Marechaudes – $88
Corton Bressandes – $99
Corton Clos du Roi – $128
Please send an email or give us a call if you are interested. All orders need to be confirmed, as the supply of these wines is quite limited.